Kids and Kingdom: The Precarious Presence of Children in the Synoptic Gospels

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9781620325681: Kids and Kingdom: The Precarious Presence of Children in the Synoptic Gospels
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Kids and Kingdom challenges the traditional view that Jesus was deeply concerned over children. Instead, it is argued that despite the Synoptic authors' attempts to convince us that children are fully included in the kingdom of God--that "Jesus loves the little children"--their presentations fail to conceal images of household disruption and alienation of children brought about by Jesus' eschatological movement. After establishing what Greco-Roman and Jewish sources reveal about children by the end of the first century, a deconstructive literary approach is applied to the Synoptic Gospels, foregrounding children over other characters in relation to Jesus' adult ministry. Murphy scrutinizes prominent healing narratives involving children, and teachings involving children such as "The Child in the Midst" (Mark 9:36-37 and parallels), "One of These Little Ones" (Mark 9:42 and parallels), and "Let the Young Children Come to Me" (Mark 10:13-16 and parallels). These are examined against sayings of Jesus relativizing family ties and the lifestyle indicative of the radical call to discipleship in the Synoptic narratives. Fundamentally, this study does not seek to resolve but to highlight the tensions in the Synoptic Gospels between attempts at child inclusivity and the radical demands of discipleship.

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About the Author:

A. James Murphy, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Religion at South Dakota State University. He is the author of "Children in Deuteronomy: the Partisan Nature of Divine Justice" Biblical Interpretation 20 (Spring 2012).

Review:

To say Jesus may not have loved little children (as much as people assume) is daring. But to make children visible in biblical interpretation--even essential to it--is a real contribution. With incisive analysis of a range of scholarship, James Murphy reveals just how much their inclusion transforms sentimental assumptions about the 'kingdom,' and, as important, he heightens our concern for the plight of real children. --Bonnie Miller-McLemore, author of Let the Children Come: Reimagining Childhood from a Christian Perspective

This close, literary analysis is striking because it exposes tensions within the Gospel narratives that challenge modern assumptions about Jesus' doting on, delight in, and welcome of non-adult companions among his entourage. With painstaking care Murphy draws out the implications the Synoptic presentation of Jesus--as eschatological, crucifixion-bound itinerant--portends for the wellbeing of children. Judicious and solicitous, Murphy nevertheless hurls a brickbat at stained-glass notions of Jesus as champion of 'family values.' --Gregory Allen Robbins, Chair and Associate Professor of the History of Christianity and its Scriptures, University of Denver

With a clear eye and a willingness to explore textual evidence in all of its ambiguity, Murphy leads us unapologetically through the Synoptic Gospels, asking questions about the consequences of following Jesus for children. Engaging problems of familial disruption, abandonment, and itineracy, he rejects sentimental piety in favor of concern for the daily needs of children and calls for an intellectually honest reading of the text. --Katherine Turpin, Associate Professor of Religious Education, Iliff School of Theology

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ISBN 10:  1498265316 ISBN 13:  9781498265317
Publisher: Pickwick Publications, 2013
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